BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A frequent issue facing American business education is a critical shortage of academically trained faculty members from underrepresented populations. To help address this issue, the Indiana University Kelley School of Business is hosting a webinar on Feb. 25 with the 14 business schools of the Big Ten.
The consecutive three-session virtual event, “Shape the Future of Diversity with a PhD,” will begin at 6:30 Eastern Time.
Nine faculty members and five doctoral students from underrepresented groups at Big Ten schools, including Dionne Nickerson, an assistant professor of marketing at Kelley, will discuss what it is like to pursue an academic career and the impact one can make on today’s students and tomorrow’s business leaders. In addition to Nickerson, another participant is associated with the PhD Project.
The three 30-minute sessions will focus on the benefits of pursuing a career in academia, what the academic career path entails and the steps to take for those who are interested. Those interested can attend any or all of the sessions. Registration is free and available at the program site at gokelley.iu.edu/phd.
Participation by women and those from underrepresented backgrounds is strongly encouraged.
The planning group for the event includes Rebecca Slotegraaf, chair of doctoral programs, professor of marketing and the Neal Gilliatt Chair. She notes that those who attend will learn how a career in academia can enable people to shape the future of business and how it can be multifaceted and fulfilling.
“One of the challenges we face is generating awareness and familiarity with a PhD in Business and an academic career. While people are generally aware of PhDs in the life sciences or social sciences, many are unaware that you can pursue a PhD in Business,” Slotegraaf said. “Most students earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business or an MBA seek employment in industry rather than academia. For many, the path toward a PhD and a career in academia remain opaque.
“Another critical challenge is reaching individuals from underrepresented populations, who tend to be less likely to apply to doctoral programs,” she added. “As we seek a more diverse workplace, it is important to shape our next business leaders. It is also important to recognize that we need diversity in academia, to elevate critical thinking and enable students of all backgrounds to see themselves as potential leaders.
“As individuals wonder whether they have what it takes to pursue a PhD in Business and become a business school professor, this event will help address some of these questions.”
Nickerson, who came to Kelley a year and a half ago after earning her PhD at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said it is important to demonstrate, through action, that everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to and benefit from the academy.
“This is particularly true for groups who have traditionally been locked out of those opportunities. I have no question about the ability or the talent. It is there and has always been there. The opportunity and clarity of the pathway have not,” she said. “Seeing someone, who is like you and comes from a similar background, speak about their experience can be powerful. This is tantamount to planting a seed. The next steps, of course, require that we all ensure that the seed has the resources that it needs to grow and flourish.”
Idie Kesner, dean of the Kelley School, the Frank P. Popoff Chair of Strategic Management and a member of AASCB International’s board of directors, will moderate the webinar.
“A diverse faculty is an important step in building a diverse student body,” Kesner said. “This event will promote and demystify business doctoral programs as a first step toward a rewarding academic career in business. We see it as part of a broader effort to attract more underrepresented minority faculty members to business schools, including here at the Kelley School.”
Since 1960, the Kelley School PhD Program has created leaders in research and advancing business education.
“In my experience, I have found that those with an underlying eagerness to discover new ideas and develop solutions, along with an interest in creating an impact on students and the business world, will be most successful,” Slotegraaf said. “In the Kelley doctoral program, with our breadth of faculty expertise and engaged learning style, we help doctoral students nurture these passions.”